Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chili Half Smokes

There are just some times when a chili drenched half smoke is just the best thing in the world.  Usually I'm not a huge meat eater...I stick usually to fish and chicken.  But I can't turn down a good half smoke.

If there is one thing I certainly love it's Ben's Chili Bowl in DC.  World-famous and incredibly delicious, Ben's is a DC staple, and their chili half smokes are just amazing.
Photo via Ben's Chili Bowl 

I usually make my chili with lots of beans and tomatoes, but Ben's is different.  No beans, no chunky tomatoes, just thick chili slathered on half smokes.  And half smokes are unique to DC.  It's usually a smoked half beef and half pork larger version of a hot dog.  And delicious.  And we picked some up last week from Eastern Market.

So tonight, as a meal to go along with watching the NFL playoffs (ugh Packers, you broke my heart), I decided to try to replicate Ben's chili. I looked up a few recipes, and found a basic recipe through google researching, on the website,, here.

However, I found as I made the recipe, it needed some modifications.  And the result?  Well, Brett called it a major success, and I think I managed to make some damn good chili half smokes.  This recipe makes enough for four half smokes with chili.

Oh also, happy times, I finally have official measuring spoons!  I figured I should be more specific about how much I use by measuring :)

4 half smokes, or sausages or hot dogs
1 T vegetable oil
1 large onion
1 garlic clove
3 T chili powder
1 T sugar
1 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
1 t curry powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 lb ground beef
2.5 T tomato paste
3 T corn meal
3 t salt
1 t pepper
1 & 1/2 C mushroom broth (or chicken or beef)
1/2 C water
1 bay leaf
4 hot dog buns
1/4 C cheddar cheese, shredded

Chop the onion and mince the garlic clove.  Save about 1/4 C of the onions raw and set aside.  Heat up the vegetable oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven (anything that can be covered) on medium heat.  Add the garlic and the onion and sautee  for about 9 minutes.

Add the chili powder through the cayenne pepper and stir frequently.  Sautee for 2 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the mix and sautee until the meat is browned.

Once the meat is browned add the remaining ingredients and turn the heat to low.  Cover the chili and let simmer for at least 40 minutes, stirring once every 10 minutes.

Using a griddle or a sautee pan, or if you're one of those who are super lucky, use a grill, to heat up the sausages.

Turn the sausages fairly frequently.  I cook mine at about medium to medium low heat so that they cook low and slow.

Char the sausages all over.  Make sure all the juices are trapped inside.

While the sausage grill, shred the cheese if you don't have preshredded cheese.

To prepare the half smokes, put the half smokes on the buns, and split in half.  Add prepared mustard and some raw onions (about 1 T of each).

Then add the chili, make sure to smother it real good, and add a couple pinches of the cheese.

I might be a wimp, but I needed a fork and knife for mine!  But if you want to get all messy, no utensils needed.  This is a perfect football watching food, or really....a good food for indulgence.  Mmmmm.

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